Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Over the last decade, digital technology has become an increasingly important part of education. In the discipline of English language arts, digital technology has been enlisted to teach writing, as the word processor and more recently, the World Wide Web, have provided new tools and new publishing opportunities for student writers. The presence of digital technology is less pronounced, however, in literature instruction in secondary schools. In both theoretical and practical discussions of digital technology and literature, the two mediums have been conceived as radically different. This dissertation argues that the digital medium, and more specifically the World Wide Web, can support literature instruction at the secondary level. It begins by identifying two central concerns that have marked historical and contemporary approaches to literature instruction: concern for the text and concern for the reader. Next, through an examination of hypertext, it proposes that the digital medium can meet both concerns, and supplies a theoretical model for implementing digital technology in the literature curriculum.

Subsequent chapters illustrate how this model functions in a practical context by drawing on action research conducted in a secondary classroom. Specifically, these chapters describe how two Web-based learning tools, the literary MOO and the WebQuest, were used to reinforce reader-oriented and text-oriented literature instruction. The literary MOO, used in conjunction with the novel Brave New World , helped students evoke and elaborate on the story world of thetext, make personal connections between the text and their own lives, and discuss the text in an egalitarian and collaborative way. The WebQuest, used in conjunction with the novel Heart of Darkness , helped students learn about critical theory and read the text in an analytical and text-centered way. Thedissertation concludes by considering how English language arts teachers might best be trained to integrated Web-based technology. Drawing on case studies of four intern teachers, this final chapter argues that teacher educators must equip their students to use technology in ways that are practical, as well as theoretically sound.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access